Innovative virtual reality technology improving safety standards across energy sector

DNV’s virtual reality (VR) tool, which is helping improve safety standards in the energy sector, is to be showcased at SPE Offshore Europe 2023 (OE23) in Aberdeen later this year.

The independent energy expert and assurance provider DNV has used the VR technology to develop a major accident hazard (MAH) programme, consisting of various scenarios where users walk through a simulated environment using hand controllers and a typical VR headset with headphones and cameras built in.

The scenarios, which incorporate typical operational tasks like opening valves or erecting a scaffold, lead to a simulated failure which escalates to a fire or an explosion and provides opportunities for discussions on barriers and how to respond appropriately to incidents.

The familiar setting creates a memorable experience for the users and allows them to retain key safety messages that will help them identify and mitigate hazards and avoid major accidents in real life. The messages are embedded within various training scenarios which provide discussion points throughout the session.

The DNV programme has already been adopted by 10 oil and gas operators including Harbour Energy, the largest London-listed independent oil and gas company, to complement the organisation’s existing training programme for MAH awareness.

Christine Luoma, Principal Consultant, DNV, said: “The use of the VR technology for training is a safe, cost effective and interactive method that has potential to revolutionise industry training. The programme offers a high level of realism, with high quality graphics bringing to life an environment akin to an onshore or offshore facility. VR is easy to use and introduces a fun factor to learning that has really improved engagement, raising MAH awareness across the workforce.”

Martin Wardrope, Process Engineer, Harbour Energy, said: “Using innovative technology like this to help raise awareness of process safety events to onshore and offshore workers is really beneficial. It creates an interactive learning environment that allows engaging discussions around the simulated safety violations and missed prevention opportunities observed in each of the scenarios. The technology is a great addition to our in-person training programme at the research and testing facility in Spadeadam and allows us to foster a proactive process safety culture.”

DNV and Harbour will present a paper detailing how VR has made a transformative approach to MAH awareness training at OE23, which will be held at P&J Live, Aberdeen from 5-8 September 2023.

Kamel Ben-Naceur, SPE Offshore Europe Conference Chair2023, said: “Digitalisation has now taken root in the oil and gas industry and this safety-enhancing VR technology will be presented in a technical session demonstrating specific technologies that showcase the advances of digitalisation in our industry. Other examples being presented include AI-enabled digital rock technology, automated weld inspection and acoustic sand detection.”